Resources for Undocumented Students

University of New Haven Commitment

The University of New Haven is a diverse institution that celebrates individuals of all identities. As members of the Charger community, we believe that our socio-cultural differences ignite intellectual growth and foster a culture of understanding that embraces our ever-changing society.

As a community and individuals, we are responsible for addressing and removing barriers, achieving success, and sustaining a culture of inclusivity, empathy, kindness, and compassion. Diversity, equity, inclusion, acceptance, and belonging enrich the Charger community and are instrumental to institutional success and fulfillment of the University's mission.

Student Resources
Applying to the University of New Haven

All students are welcome to apply to the University of New Haven regardless of their citizenship or residency status. Residency status is not a factor that is considered in admission. In addition, undocumented students, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, and mixed family status students are treated and considered the same as any other University of New Haven applicant during the review process.

Undocumented, mixed family status and DACA students should follow the same application process. The University of New Haven will consider all materials submitted from any applicant. To learn more about academic programs and admission to the University of New Haven or complete an application, visit:

Financial Aid

Undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial aid. However, undocumented students are eligible for any University of New Haven merit scholarships awarded by the Admissions Office. For more information, please visit: Financial Aid.

Myatt Center for Diversity & Inclusion

The Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion provides services, resources, and support for undocument students. In addition, the Center is committed to empowering and celebrating the resilence of undocumented student by fostering an inclusive and welcoming campus environment. For more information, please visit: Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

Counseling and Psychological Services

We recognize that undocumented students face various issues that play a factor in their transition to college. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) can provide students with a safe and confidential space to process stress-related problems, including psychological reactions. CAPS is a valuable resource for students to use in times of need to help develop resilience and coping skills. Our team of licensed clinical professionals can meet students in person or remotely. For more information, please visit: Counseling & Psychological Services.

Dean of Students Office

The Dean of Students Office’s vision is to build partnerships and relationships with students, staff, faculty, administrators, and community members to best serve undocumented students within the Charger community. We honor and recognize the hard work of our undocumented students and their families and are committed to like to supporting them. For more information, please visit: Dean of Students Office.

Career Closet/Campus Pantry

The University’s Career Closet/Campus Pantry includes professional clothing, nonperishable food, and health and wellness items that are available at no cost to students who need them. Staff members, a supermarket chain, and the local community support these efforts, endeavoring to make sure it helps as many students as possible. For more information reach out to

FAQs, Definitions & Legislation
Bridge Act
  • National Immigration Law Center FAQ on BRIDGE Act
  • BRIDGE Act, sponsored by Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo

The Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is a proposed piece of legislation to provide a pathway to permanent residency and U.S. citizenship for qualified undocumented immigrant students.

The Dream Act is a piece of legislation initially introduced in 2001 that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people brought to the United States as children. There have been many versions of the Dream Act introduced in Congress since the initial legislation in 2001, none of which have been passed into law despite widespread bipartisan support from American adults.

Immigration reform has been a long and difficult debate in Congress over the last two decades. Democrat and Republican lawmakers have struggled to come to an agreement and pass any legislation that would enact meaningful change. As the new administration works to both undo policies put in place by the Trump Administration and make progress on immigration reform, it's difficult to predict what changes will come during Biden's presidency. Without support from Republicans, it will be difficult for Democrats in Congress to pass comprehensive reform legislation, and lawmakers may instead work on passing legislation piece by piece to make changes one bill at a time.

  • You'll qualify for lawful permanent residence and a pathway to citizenship under the Dream Act
  • Entered the U.S. before the age of 18 and are undocumented
  • Have been continuously present in the country for at least four years before the date the legislation is enacted
  • Have no serious crimes on their record
  • Are pursuing OR have earned a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Are pursuing higher education, have worked legally for at least three years, have served in the military for at least two years
Recognizing America's Children Act

Recognizing America's Children Act, sponsored by Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla.

The American Hope Act

The American Hope Act, sponsored by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.


What is DACA?

DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a program that was introduced by President Barack Obama in 2012. Under DACA, undocumented people who entered the United States as children are able to obtain work permits, social security numbers, driver's licenses, and other benefits and are protected from deportation. DACA recipients renew their status every two years.

  • DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers, are people who came to the United States as children who do not have legal authorization to live or work in the country. Most DACA recipients grew up in the United States, and many times don't find out that they are undocumented until they apply for college or want to get a driver's license. Currently, DACA recipients are not able to become U.S. citizens.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services statement on DACA: "On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and would then be eligible for work authorization. Individuals who can demonstrate through verifiable documentation that they meet these guidelines will be considered for deferred action. Determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis under the DACA guidelines." Immigration Equality FAQ about DACA?
  • The Dream Act of 2021 is a bipartisan bill introduced to the Senate in February 2021. It would provide a pathway to citizenship for many undocumented people who qualify for the DACA program.
  • You'll qualify for lawful permanent residence and a pathway to citizenship under the Dream Act of 2021 if you:
    • Entered the U.S. before the age of 18 and are undocumented
    • Have been continuously present in the country for at least four years before the date the legislation is enacted
    • Have no serious crimes on their record
    • Are pursuing OR have earned a high school diploma or equivalent
    • Are pursuing higher education, have worked legally for at least three years, have served in the military for at least two years

The House of Representatives passed a similar piece of legislation, the American Dream and Promise Act in March 2021. This bill would also extend a pathway to citizenship for legal residents who have Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a discretionary determination to defer removal of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. The Obama administration describes it as a smart enforcement policy that will help unclog deportation courts and allow better targeting of high priority criminal immigrants.

DACA Does:

  • Defer deportation for 2 years
  • (renewable, but subject to termination at any time)
  • Stop "unlawful presence" clock
  • Enable grantee to obtain:
    • Work authorization
    • Social security number
    • Driver's license (depending on state law requirements)

DACA Does Not:

  • Confer valid immigration status
  • Offer path to citizenship nor permanent legal status
  • Qualify students for federal financial aid
  • Give access to health insurance
  • Allow all students to be considered for deferred action (only certain young people qualify
  • Include student's family
  • Create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable by law by any party in any administrative, civil, or criminal matter
Definitions (from Loyola Chicago)

Undocumented Student: "Undocumented" refers to students who are not U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents of the United States, who do not hold a visa to reside in the U.S., and who have not applied for legal residency in the U.S. In many, but not all, cases the term non-citizen refers to undocumented students. Undocumented students are eligible to apply for and be admitted to LUC. Undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial aid.

Unauthorized: This term has been used as a synonym for undocumented, however this term is used to highlight the fact that all peoples have documents (i.e. birth certificate, a form of identification card, and so forth), but that they are residing in the U.S. without legal authorization, thus unauthorized.

Legal Citizenship: Is obtained by individuals who are residing in the U.S. legally due to the attainment of permanent residency or citizenship through a visa or green card. These individuals obtain a social security number (SSN).

Cultural Citizenship: Undocumented people who participate in and are acknowledged for their cultural resiliency and social reproduction that they participate in. Undocumented people take part in the class, cultural, and linguistic knowledge and skills that establish the cultural capital of social groups in the U.S.

Non-Citizen: The non-citizen category applies to students who are not U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents of the United States and who do not hold a valid visa or who are not seeking a visa for study or documentation for residency in the U.S.

Overstayed Visa: Refers to individuals who have stayed in the U.S. after their tourist, visitor, or student visa has expired and thus they become undocumented by overstaying their visa.

International Student: (need to research for Fairfield) Undocumented students are not viewed as international applicants because many do not qualify for a visa. In addition, undocumented students do not have to go through the international admission process.

Residency Status: Refers to in-state or out-of-state residency for purposes of tuition assessment.

Local Resources
National Resources
  • My (Un)Documented Life Up-to-date information and resources, including scholarships, for undocumented immigrants
  • United We Dream DEEP Resources Scholarships complied by United We Dream DEEP Resources
  • TheDream.US Scholarships
  • DREAMer's Road Map Scholarships
  • Immigrant Legal Resource Center
  • Justice for Immigrants - Know your rights information and videos
  • Immigrant Legal Resource Center: What do I need to know if the DACA program ends
  • The American Civil Liberties Union- Undocumented students can find information on their rights as immigrants in English and Spanish. The ACLU also provides legal resources for Dreamers, rights within the 100-mile border zone, enforcement at the airport, and information on education for immigrants.
  • National Immigration Law Center- NILC is an organization that advocates for immigrant rights with a focus on low-income families. NILC provides a wealth of information including legal resources, toolkits on education access, financial aid and scholarship pages, COVID-19 resources, and guides for educators on sanctuary schools and safe zones.
  • Immigrants Rising- Students can use the immigration legal intake service, connect with support groups, find mental health support, get information about scholarships, visas, and applying for DACA here, as well as many other resources.
  • Informed Immigrant- The organization offers many resources including information on renewing DACA, immigrant rights guides, COVID-19 resources, and a search tool to find legal help in your local area.
Frequently Asked Questions (from Fairfield University
  1. Who is considered an undocumented student?
    An undocumented student is a person living in the United States without benefit of U.S. Citizenship or the authorization of the federal government. Many such individuals were brought to the United States as children by parents who either overstayed a legal visa or entered the country without inspection. Undocumented students thus experience the unique challenge of not having had a voice in their migration process. Most have attended K-12 public schools, and many do not learn of their status until adolescence when they prepare to apply for a driver's license and/or apply to college.

  2. How Does the State I Live in Impact Dreamer Laws?
    Some states have passed their own version of the Dream Act or additional pieces of legislation that provide benefits for those who are undocumented. Most notably, some states allow undocumented students to access state grants and other funding for higher education. Nineteen states allow undocumented students who graduated from local high schools to pay in-state tuition. Some states also allow undocumented immigrants to get professional licenses in specific trades where licensure is necessary.

    The National Conference of State Legislatures provides an overview of state laws related to tuition benefits for undocumented students pursuing higher education.

  3. What is the legality of educating undocumented students?
    Undocumented students are guaranteed a free K-12 public education under the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment pursuant to the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Plyler v. Doe.

  4. Are undocumented students allowed to attend colleges and universities?
    Federal law does not prohibit the admission of undocumented students to public universities or colleges; however, states may admit or bar undocumented students from enrolling in public post-secondary institutions as a matter of policy or through legislation. A vast majority of states do not prohibit the admission of undocumented students to public institutions. Private universities are free to admit undocumented students, regardless of state laws.

  5. Is a social security number required for admission to college?
    While many applications ask for a Social Security Number (SSN), there is no legal obligation on the part of universities to require students to provide it. Accordingly, the common application form for undergraduate college admission states that an SSN is required only for U.S. citizens and permanent residents applying for financial aid via FAFSA. Undocumented students should be aware of state and/or federal laws that make it a crime in some circumstances to use a false SSN, which may also qualify as identity theft. Moreover, fraudulent claims could subject the undocumented individual to deportation. Note, however, that an individual with Deferred Action status and employment authorization may now be eligible for an SSN.

  6. Must undocumented students identify themselves as such during the college application process?
    No. Doing so is a personal decision, determined in part by the level of risk a student perceives for oneself and one's family.

  7. Does a college or University have to report a student's immigration status?
    The Department of Homeland Security does not require a college to determine a student's immigration status or to report it if it comes to light (exception: in the case of a person who came on an international student visa, the school is required to report the termination of the student's academic status which may possibly impact her or his nonimmigrant status).

  8. What are some of the challenges undocumented students face when applying to college?
    Social: Some undocumented students may have been raised in families in which no one has attended college; thus, they may have little knowledge of the application process. In fact, some families may have reason to fear their child seeking higher education – fear that somewhere in the process their own undocumented status will be discovered. The students often live with constant fear that they will be "found out" or that they will return to a home where a parent or sibling has been deported.

    Practical: Without an SSN, many undocumented students cannot obtain a driver's license, which means relying on rides from friends, using public transportation, and not participating in many co-curricular activities that make college life enriching. However, some states now issue a driver's license to their undocumented population even those without an SSN. This also excludes them from majoring in professions that require licensing (e.g. teaching, nursing, accounting), from studying abroad, and from many service-learning options. Some of these practical limitations are addressed by DACA (see Q&A #18) and a few states (see Legal below).

    Legal: The laws that apply to undocumented students vary state-­‐by-­‐state and are subject to continual changes in the political climate. The June 15, 2012 DACA program grants a temporary reprieve from deportation but it does not offer a path to citizenship, permanent legal residency, nor any legal immigration status. Moreover, it may be modified, superseded, or rescinded any time without notice. The federal DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform continue to be discussed but as yet have not been signed into law. In June 2013, Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill that died in the House of Representatives. As President Obama has stated, individuals who would qualify for the DREAM Act deserve certainty about their status. Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer the certainty that comes with a pathway to permanent lawful status. In January 2014, the Supreme Court of California, in the case of In re. Sergio C. Garcia on Admission (S202512), admitted successful undocumented bar examinees to the practice of law in the state of California. The decision is anchored on a California law passed on October 2013 removing the obstacle posed by a federal law on the practice of profession by undocumented immigrants. Florida, New York and Illinois followed suit with the additional requirement that they have received employment authorization from USCIS. California was the first state to pass a law expanding the authorization to practice profession given to undocumented graduates. The law requires the 43 licensing boards under the California Department of Consumer Affairs to accept professional license applicants regardless of legal status. Subsequently, New York Board of Regents and the Nebraska Legislature allowed DACA recipients to apply for professional licenses and teaching certification.

  9. Can Undocumented Students Receive Federal Financial Aid?

    Undocumented students cannot receive federal financial aid, even if they have DACA or are DACA eligible. This creates a significant barrier to higher education for many undocumented students – without access to federal grants, work-study funding, and federal student loan options, paying for college is much more difficult. While federal financial aid is not an option for undocumented students, there are many opportunities to help cover tuition and education costs, including scholarships and grants from some states, individual schools, nonprofits, and other organizations. Undocumented students can also borrow student loans from private lenders to help pay for college.

    Because the FAFSA requires a Social Security Number (SSN), many undocumented students will not be able to fill out the application for aid. Students who have DACA can apply for an SSN and use that to fill out the FAFSA, even though they won't qualify for federal aid. This will allow the government to give you a Student Aid Report (SAR), which will tell colleges about your financial ability to pay for college so they can award you state or institutional aid you do qualify for. If you have concerns about submitting personal information through the FAFSA, talk to a high school counselor or the financial aid office at the school you want to attend to see what the best options are for you based on your personal circumstances.

  10. Can Undocumented Students Receive State Financial Aid?
    This depends on the state. Many states have developed specific laws that allow undocumented students to access state financial aid, state-sponsored scholarships, and/or in-state tuition. Some states limit these benefits to certain universities or only allow DACA recipients to access funding. The Presidents' Alliance provides detailed information on state laws in their Higher Ed Guide to Tuition, Financial Aid, & Other Funding Opportunities for Undocumented Students.

    Many states that provide financial aid for undocumented students have their own financial aid applications. Students in California, Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington are eligible to receive state financial aid even if they are undocumented, and can find information about applying for aid by clicking on the name of their state above.

  11. How Do I Apply For Financial Aid?
    The type of aid and application process available to undocumented students varies widely from state to state and is even different at each school. Undocumented students should contact the financial aid office at the school they plan to attend to find out what aid is available and how to apply.

    For students who live in a state that has its own financial aid application, your school may recommend you fill that out to apply for aid. Some schools may also have undocumented students submit a CSS Profile, which is an online application for nonfederal student financial aid through the College Board, rather than submitting the FAFSA. Those who do not have an SSN may need to submit a paper copy of the FAFSA.

  12. Can undocumented students legally work?
    Under the new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, individuals who receive deferred action from removal may apply for and obtain employment authorization for the period of deferred action if they can establish an economic necessity for employment. Even before the DACA program, some undocumented individuals with recognized unique circumstances, e.g., those who receive temporary protective status (TPS), are allowed to stay in the U.S. and could be authorized to work.

    Undocumented students are only able to work while they're in school if they have a work permit through DACA or another program. A DACA work permit allows undocumented students to hold any job they qualify for, just as a U.S. citizen would be able to. DACA students can find jobs on campus and work for their school, or they can work off-campus in their local area.

  13. Can undocumented students go out of the country to participate in study abroad or international service learning engagement?
    International travel is possible for DACA grantees whose subsequent application for advance parole travel documents has been approved. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stated that it will grant advance parole for "humanitarian, education, or work purposes" to DACA grantees who have a compelling need to travel. In its January 18, 2013 updated guidance, USCIS explicitly stated that educational purposes include semester-abroad programs and academic research. Many lawyers refrain from advising students to travel because DACA is discretionary, and there are unresolved and emerging issues about triggering the three- or ten-year unlawful presence bar through travel. The new USCIS guidance will increase the confidence of undocumented students to participate in study-abroad programs. However, it is advised that students consult with immigration lawyers before filing an application for advance parole. It should be noted that all advance parole requests will be considered on a case by case basis. There is a specialized procedure for those who have been ordered deported or removed, and immigration matters are, in general, highly complex.

  14. What services are undocumented students likely to need?
    Although this list could be a long one, some primary services include:

    • Transportation
    • Financial aid
    • Safety from deportation
    • Sense of community
    • Counseling services
    • Legal referrals
    • Identification of people on campus they can go to for help/support
    • Assistance with post-graduation plans
    • Connection to other students on campus who are undocumented and/or alum who are undocumented